89 thoughts on “Suicide: Pro-Choice or Pro-Life?

  • March 29, 2010 at 7:18 am

    I tend to be pro-choice as well. If a person does not have rights on their very life then they have no rights at all. No other person can tell you that have not suffered enough to die and that your life has more meaning. What good is a life spent in perpetual suffering as many with mental illness do and the fact is if a person really wants to die, they will.

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  • March 29, 2010 at 9:35 am

    The ‘argument’ that asks us to consider those we leave behind means nothing to me. I’m going to die someday which will leave them behind anyway and their lives will go on. To me, it makes no difference whether I die from ‘natural causes’ or by my own planning. Interesting to note, however, that I am grateful my son’s death was not by his own hand although he had tried three times. I am aware of the contradiction.

    My PhD and therapist are not at all pleased when I tell them that suicide is always in my head, although these days it is further back. They think that eventually it will not be a thought in my head at all. I let them think what they want. It is a part of me, just sometimes less pronounced.

    My mother came up with a solution for her thoughts regarding my possible suicide. She said that when someone has fought a terrible disease like cancer and has died, we say they succumbed to the disease. In the same manner, she’s decided that should I take my life, I would have fought a hard fight yet succumbed to the disease (condition).

    Should I be in a place to make someone else’s decision to live or die? No. Should I be allowed the privilege to choose whether I live or die? Depends on the day of the week with me. Pro-Life? Pro-Choice? I don’t know. Not sure it can be that simple. Certainly not something to be swept under the table.

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  • March 29, 2010 at 10:06 am

    you mention it in passing. you don’t feel comfortable sharing your experience and personal reasoning.

    i think to kill yourself and leave people confused as to your motives would be wrong. think of the broad social aspect. how does it effect the society you leave behind. as in, does it promote suicide as something to do without seeking help or sharing with anyone.

    committing suicide makes your final act in life to say: this is a justifiable reason to kill yourself. if no one knows your reasons then it is probably selfish. people might blame themselves after all.

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  • March 29, 2010 at 10:31 am

    I used to be pro-choice. I used to have the mindset “You should be able to leave the party if you aren’t having a good time.” But doesn’t depression, bipolar, schizophrenia and a million other kinds of mental illness have a way of distorting and coloring the view…making it unable to enjoy the party in the first place?

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  • March 29, 2010 at 10:58 am

    @weiss

    I give myself permission to be selfish when dealing with my own pain. I don’t care how it impacts society and as stated before we all go sometime. If you are concerned about giving them reasons then you could always leave a note, but likely those close to you will already know.

    @jamie
    maybe but it would mean that I was only pro-choice when I am suicidal which is not true. I have known people who suffered truly mental anguish and there is no other option then to my the truly humane thing to do is allow them to leave their pain. This isn’t like drugs where the pain will still be there when you come down suicide is release of all pain permanently.

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  • March 29, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Hi Weiss,
    You bring up a great point. Santiago made it pretty clear what his reason was. Not only did he tell us why, hanging himself left no doubt that he wanted it known. My attempt would have left people wondering as you suggest. Would leaving a note make it OK then?

    What if the note (or other action) made it clear that a person was the reason? Would that not cause guilty feelings. Does that negate the argument that makes it OK?

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  • March 29, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Hmmmmmmm, tought question. I remember in 1979 being so depressed that finally a doctor gave me then tricyclics and me asking him how many it would take to kill someone with them and him telling me 12. A few weeks later I looked in the bottle and counted 15, took 13 and recapped the bottle with two left intentionally. I woke to my husband walking me up and down the hall like he’d undoubedly seen in some movie. Later I went to the libary and looked up the lethal dose for the med and is was less than 12 for my weight and height.

    A couple years later, after meds and therapy had me functioning just fine for a long time, I did what everyone does and decided I was never ill in the first place. Four months later, having losted everything I has not destroyed, I again got to the place where I didn’t think I had any choice but to die in order to just make the whole mess go away. I took my entire stash of pills that day and then put my fist through a glass door. Waiting to die, I felt a strong awareness that there might be something worth saving. I wasn’t sure what or how but I came right up to death, pressed my face on its cold hard shadow and choose life.

    So I’m pro-choice. I’m pro teaching people when everything seems like it has fallen in on you and there is no way out, they are wrong. Anything can be fixed except death.

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  • March 29, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Hi Joye,
    I really love “So I’m pro-choice. I’m pro teaching people when everything seems like it has fallen in on you and there is no way out, they are wrong.” I feel the same. If they are not clear, I hope that we can help them to see the options. If someone makes an informed and conscious choice I completely respect it. I respect Santiago’s choice even though I live daily with the pain.

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  • March 29, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Tom,
    I come from a family where two uncles, one aunt and two cousins near my own age as choose to end their lives violently – without time for clarity and reconsider as I had at least once. Given better coping skills and the relation that nothing might ever be the same but that’s not all bad – they may have made different choices. Three of the deaths happened when it was truly death or snake pits so perhaps considering the age they at least took charge of their fate. Having grown up with this, I have to wonder it their wasn’t something on both sides of my family that made them feel powerless to change things about their lives instead of taking their lives.

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  • March 29, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Very powerful post; you are certainly very brave to have overcome the tribulations in your life. Keep being strong and inspiring to others!

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  • March 29, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    I think quality of life matters. You can have a good quality of life living with Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, etc. I have Bipolar Disorder, and I think my life is great. I haven’t always felt that way.

    You’re likely to not have a good quality of life if you have, say, Huntington’s Disease, in which case I would understand why someone would take their life. But if one has Major Depression and they otherwise have the ability to improve their lives, why should we let them make that decision? I say this because I remember that when I was planning out my death, I had no desire to die. I just felt stuck. I imagine a lot of people who think about suicide feel that way. If I hit a point where I’m thinking about suicide again, I hope that someone who cares about me helps me through it. I wouldn’t be surprised if other people feel the same.

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  • March 29, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    It reminds me of the question: “Whose life is it anyway?” I think most of us can agree suicide isn’t a dessirable outcome for anyone with depression and bipolar and that it harms the survivors, but I don’t think society has the right to dictate to someone that they must live. That being said I think whether or not suicide is or ever becomes a right, each one of us knows how to prevent anyone from stopping us, that effectively, no one can take that choice from us as long as we don’t indicate out intent to make it.

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  • March 30, 2010 at 6:38 pm

    if someone i cared about decided to commit suicide, maybe their last words would read like a deluded rant. but i suppose being able to judge a persons frame of mind would be comforting.

    anyway, you hear about suicide notes. and i think it is more responsible. the pain inflicted as a result of suicide is probably worse than other kinds of death. if they blamed someone in their note then the person who drove them to suicide would eventually come to the conclusion that they were unstable to begin with. or that person might accept the blame and guilt. who knows.

    in the end the dead person is responsible for his/her actions and an appropriate amount of the results.

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  • March 31, 2010 at 6:08 am

    I am very much pro-choice. How incredibly selfish an argument than that someone give over the only control they may have, the only power left to them, to say no more, just because it’s more convenient for other people? I may be wrong but how many people wish desperately for death because they have a supportive and loving family? How many wish for death because they have been cast aside by those very people who they would allegedly hurt? Are these people being supportive or just so apathetic or controlling they can’t even just let someone go? Emotional pain is very much as painful as physical pain and believe me I know both intimately. No one can or should live with unendurable pain just to avoid upsetting others. It won’t help and worse, saying something so unspeakably selfish is cruel, manipulative, serves to remind the person how much damage they are doing whether or not they proceed (increasing guilt), increase isolation–in short– saying that is most likely to push the person towards suicide.

    What does a person who is suicidal really need? To be given some reason to live. To be loved as they are, flaws and all, not given some conditional tolerance. Not to be blamed for their illness. To be wanted. Not to be hurt or abused. And if there’s no one capable of that then why on earth would someone else’s passing inconvenience be more important than severe prolonged unrelieved mental anguish? And it’s an absolute fact that the mental and physical are linked and than emotional pain destroys the heart, the muscles, the immune system, etc.. So it really is a terminal illness. Like cancer it may be fought, if one chooses and has the support needed, but in other situations it’s just needless suffering.

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  • March 31, 2010 at 6:10 am

    I think about it every day including ways to do so. I believe I will do so and have a plan as to when and how. I believe I have the right to end my life if I can not be happy in this world.

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  • March 31, 2010 at 6:20 am

    I think it is import to get a person help when they are struggling with issues but especially if they r to attempt suicide. These stong urgues last 12-24 hours and if y u can get a person though it they will come back to their senses.
    Take care
    Lonescout

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  • March 31, 2010 at 6:30 am

    A few years ago, a close relative confided seriously suicidal thoughts, even having a well thought out plan. Although he knows me as open-minded, he was hesitant to tell me too much at first, for fear that I might attempt to intervene. I promised not to, only asking that should he decide to end his life, I would appreciate the opportunity for us to say our final farewells.

    My relative is alive today and is not currently in as dark a place as he was then. Of course, there is no guarantee that he won’t be there again. He is very dear to me and I fervently hope he continues to choose life.

    But if things change and he ultimately chooses to end his life, my hope is that he will trust me and be comfortable enough to share his decision with me. I will support him whatever his decision out of love for him and respect for him as an equal fellow human being. I don’t have the right to dictate how or to live his life, nor end it. But I can bear witness to his pain and be there for him with love and support.

    I am very thankful that so far, he has chosen life.

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  • March 31, 2010 at 6:31 am

    Very Interesting point of view that I am sure I will be pondering for at least a few days… The episode of House last week with the Physician Assisted Suicide was thought provoking as well. Someone in my outer circle of friends comitted suicide about six weeks ago and the first thought that came up for me was, “way to go, Scott, you had the guts to do what you wanted to do” then, immediately, I was shocked at my thought process. This thread gives me more to think about along those lines. I would think that a suicide note explaining to those left behind that there was nothing anyone could do, but that the reality of your life was just too much to take any longer might be the key to helping those people to get along after the fact.

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  • March 31, 2010 at 6:38 am

    I am definately pro-choice in all cases. I have considered suicide for myself and less than 6 months ago my younger sister actually did commit suicide. At the time, everyone came to me and wanted me to explain and justify her actions. I got the feeling that they wanted me to make them feel better with little regard for how I was feeling at the time. I do not feel that suicide is selfish. I feel that it is selfish of others to insist that I continue to live when I am in such pain, either physically or emotionally. After all, life is a terminal disease and we are all going to go some day. I think that others should get their own lives in order so that they don’t need to project on others their own fear of death and their co-dependent need for my eternal presence here on Earth. I still love my sister and I miss her every day. I am grateful that she is no longer in pain.

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  • March 31, 2010 at 6:55 am

    I must be pro-life. I wanted to end it so many times, but just can’t do it. I think of what it will do to my father and I can’t do it. I have struggled with the pro-life or choice issues! It keeps me sane. Well, sort of. LOL

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  • March 31, 2010 at 6:59 am

    I’m pro-choice. I made a feeble attempt — that I’m glad to have survived — but I also lived through my father’s multiple suicide attempts and believe it was ultimately his life and his decision to make. I miss him and wish he was still in my life, but I think I understand.

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  • March 31, 2010 at 6:59 am

    I am pro-life. I’m pro suicide intervention education. I’m for helping the person contemplating suicide that dying is not the only way out of emotional pain and that there are things to live for, even if they’re only small things.

    But if someone is completely and utterly committed to taking their own life, then it is their decision and nobody will be able to persuade them otherwise. But in my opinion, it is always imperative to try and connect with them in any way possible.

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  • March 31, 2010 at 7:01 am

    Let’s distinguish between suicide of a physically healthy person, and hastened death, as is now legal in Oregon and Washington, where terminally ill patients received medical prescription for lethal dose. The latter is not suicide, in that the patients wish to live, value life, and deal with losing it in a way that considers the feelings of family and loved ones. Over 90% die at home (which most people prefer) with hospice care. More info at http://www.compassionandchoices.org

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  • March 31, 2010 at 7:07 am

    If I leave a note, the reasons could potentially cause harm to those I love and leave behind. It is my sincere desire to leave this world and not allow my family to suffer. How hypocritical of the mental health profession to say that mental illness is real and requires treatment yet not allow that treatment resistent depression is not acceptable reason to commit suicide. The idea that we cannot even discuss it, is ludicrous. How long should someone have to suffer with a major depressive disorder? How many drugs should be tried and for how many years of “therapy” before it is finally o k to give up and allow a peaceful death? 5 years? 10? How about 30?
    Thank you Tom for writing this! I want very much for this to be over, I am just waiting for my baby to graduate high school.
    melaura

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  • March 31, 2010 at 7:31 am

    After really thinking about it I would have to say I am pro-choice. I have been suicidal many times. I have bipolar and 15-20% of people with bipolar are successful in suicide. I have also attempted suicide several times and circumstances like someone calling me have intervened to save me. My biggest concern is that when I am severely suicidal my thinking is not clear. I can see no alternative, I am hopeless, guilty and feel worthless. When thinking straight, I know I have a lot to live for. However, if at all depressed, I have that feeling that I will eventually succeed in committing suicide. (I don’t the way suicide is phrased as “committing” as an illegal act like committing theft) I have no qualms about someone, or me, suiciding (not actually a word) if they have a terminal or incapacitating them.

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